The Concert of Colors. Freedom dreams. Magical realism. Dream states. Inspirational learning. Animating democracy. Democracy matters.
What is going on? What dream of the future is emerging—and why? The Concert of Colors is the name of an intercultural, multi-ethnic event that happens every summer in Detroit. Some of these phrases are drawn from recent publications by an historian, a civil rights attorney, a performance poet, an Australian plant scientist, and a Princeton philosopher. One of them refers to a national initiative that funds community arts partnerships focused on local problems.
How do Americans imagine the future, and act on their imaginings in public? How do the public arts cause us to reevaluate our individual and group identities, including identities based on race and ethnicity, gender, family, language, and place? How do people work together to name and claim citizenship? What concepts, models, and theories of knowledge are useful for people engaged in intercultural projects? How can students carry the capacity for public engagement into the places where they will live and work?
Seminar members will be mobile, participating in several campus “Year of Citizenship” events and undertaking a community-based project. AC 498 is a community service-learning course, with a strong focus on experiential learning. The seminar focuses on the project as a key unit of knowledge production, cultural work, and social interaction. Projects matter because they bring together people, places, histories, theories, action, and concrete results.
Our project this fall will probably be a collaboration with the Cultural Exchange Network in Detroit. The goal of the network is “to enhance cooperation and interaction among racial and cultural groups throughout metro Detroit through cross-cultural interaction and dialogue with the intent of increasing collaboration. Part of this collaboration is the Annual Concert of Colors.
The Concert of Colors celebrates cross-cultural collaboration through world music. Relationships formed through the planning process for the Concert serve as a foundation for further collaboration around shared interests and concerns.” Students will work as a team with the Cultural Exchange Network and ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) to plan and execute the project, focusing especially on the meaning and value of the network for its members.
Seminar members will:
make new knowledge about public and community cultural projects, collaboratively and individually;
reflect on existing knowledge and think critically about how and why such knowledge is made; and
gain concrete skills in the areas of, for example, logic models, observational writing, project management, and campus-community partnerships.
This seminar meets for one three-hour session each week. Seminar members also should plan on devoting about six blocks of time (ranging from 1 to 4 hours each) outside of class to events and project meetings with community partners. Students will be asked to write a total of 20-25 pages throughout the term. Writing assignments include a “project product paper,” observational writing, the documentation and analysis of interviews, a final group presentation, and an individual “critical reflection” paper. Required reading includes four books, course pack, and digital readings/resources posted on CTools. Assigned authors will probably include Lani Guinier, Seyla Benhabib, Naheel Abraham and Andrew Shryock, Saskia Sassen, Nancy Naples, Renato Rosaldo, Robin Kelley, Richard Bawden, Haridimos Tsoukas, Mitchell Duneier. Attendance required.
Lab fee for transportation and event costs: $15